The First

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Photo by Louis Cahill

Photo by Louis Cahill

By Paul Puckett

Now I’m screwed!

In the world of fishing, I have had a lot of firsts, with the most recent being a Permit. Leading up to this Permit chase, I had heard everything about this fish being so challenging and finicky, and it wasn’t over-sold. The way I tried to make it happen made it even more challenging. Using an Everglades Special fly failed and I had to switch.

This made me reflect on all of the firsts I have had and now, maybe take for granted. When I say “take for granted,” I mean from the angle of hearing someone say they caught their first Trout on a dry fly, or first Redfish, or first fish at all on a fly rod. I have heard these statements many times, across the counter at a fly shop, over the last twenty years. It has been easy to lack excitement for someone when I hear, “I caught my first,” just because I hear it all the time. But, it is a special time in this sport to have a new first, and I was reminded of that 2 weeks ago.

I remember my first big bass, I was 3 years old, I think, and it was the most amazing thing I had ever seen. It was maybe 2 pounds. I remember my first rod, given to me by my dad and grandad. A Zebco 33 “Classic,” with the extra silver trim on it. Better than a Red Rider BB Gun.

I remember the first time I ever saw my Grandfather cast his fly rod. I was mesmerized.
I remember the first time I held and waved that rod after he passed. I was obsessed.

The first time I cast that fly rod, on the White River, I was a frustrated 13 year old. The first fish I caught with the fly rod was at Mrs. Kidd’s pond. I was ecstatic, and screwed, for now I was a flyfisherman.

In art class, I began to do nothing but fishing art. Every project had a fly, a fish or something of that nature in it, and my teacher encouraged it. I moved on to being obsessed with trout fishing. Living in Dallas, Texas, that was a tough task. We would go to the White River once a year, where I would cast recklessly to the trout as if they wouldn’t care. Like the bass didn’t. I finally caught a trout, on a wooly bugger…my first trout on a fly rod, I was even more screwed.

Fast forward a couple of years to my first trout on a dry fly. On the Pecos River in New Mexico. A brown trout on an Elk Hair Caddis. Oh crap, I was screwed, blued and tattooed. Trout on a dry fly, there’s nothing better. So for the next 12 years, living in Texas, Wyoming and Atlanta, all I wanted was to catch trout. On a dry fly, hell, on a streamer, I didn’t care.

Then, I truly met Saltwater, and I was in love. I fished the saltwater flats, in the Rockport / Corpus Christie area growing up, but didn’t know what the hell I was doing, and didn’t know where to go. I wasn’t really fishing, just pretending to fish.

My first Redfish on a fly rod was with Patrick Dunn, on St. Simons Island, GA. So began my fascination with the ever changing conditions of saltwater. I had a rough 5 years of it. I would plan trips to the coast and nothing would ever be right. Nothing! Bad tides, bad weather, boat problems, you name it. I endured five years of being called “Black Leg.” But, in the end, that’s why I live here, on the coast now. I had to be here. To be consumed by it, and learn it.

So, I don’t have to list all the other firsts. Bones, stripers and so on, but they are important. When I caught that Permit, I came home and put a few pictures up on Facebook and few people congratulated me. I have reflected on it quite a bit, looked at the pictures a few times and really soaked up the memory. Stored it forever.

Then, I see pics of people, guides and anglers, posting their permit like it was their job. Just another day of fishing. People catch these fish all the time, making my fish seem like no big deal to everyone else out there. Just like I had done to those folks in the fly shop. I regret that now.

It was my first Permit, Hopefully the first of many. I am even more screwed now. I have heard the second one is a lot more expensive.

Paul Puckett
Gink & Gasoline
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5 thoughts on “The First

  1. Love me some Puckett art for sure. I was sad to hear you were leaving Atlanta, and the The Fish Hawk, but I totally understood why. The salt has a strong pull and it’s hard to resist at times. I cant wait to get back to it in May. Glad everything seems to be workin out. That was one heck of a permit. Looking forward to your entries here on G&G dude!

  2. Welcome to Paul, an awesome artist whose talent provides my wife and I with vivid memories every day on our cabin walls. In 2009, Paul photographed and painted two of our beloved retrievers, the Chesapeake, Brody, and the Toller, Hunter. Both dogs have now passed on, but Paul’s wonderful portraits greet us every day. He captured their spark and spirit with his artistry. One of Paul’s photos of Hunter on my home river is the wallpaper on my computer. My buddy Jay has memorialized special trout he caught through Paul’s fish artistry, so I get to see Paul’s work at Jay’s place.

    The fly fishing community may be quite large, but connections among us are strong, enduring, and important.

    Paul, come see us in the mountains and you can again fish where you took Hunter’s picture and beyond. Besides, I have another dog for you to paint!

  3. Thanks y’all…I look forward to doing more writing in the future…I appreciate everyone’s comments!! Ralph, good you are enjoying those pics!!

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